How can the value-added model better measure students’ performance?
Tim Tebow’s throwing motion as a NFL quarterback is very unorthodox compared to traditional NFL quarterbacks. Because Tebow does not fit the norm, he has been criticized about his throwing motion and potential to perform effectively as a NFL quarterback. It was not until the Denver Broncos lost three out of four games, coupled with fans complaining vehemently, that Tebow became the starting quarterback for the Broncos.
In contrast to popular beliefs, Tebow’s performance has not only led the Broncos to six wins out of seven games he started but also enabled the team to be tied for first place in the American Football Conference. His professional growth as a NFL quarterback has improved considerably over these seven games. Without the flexibility to perform the quarterback position from an alternative style, Tebow would have been boxed into a one-size-fits-all method for learning and growing on the job. Tebow’s employer would have continued to assess his abilities based on a single measure, the traditional throwing motion rather than multiple factors such as motivation, spirituality, leadership, work ethics, athleticism, social background and prior experience as a winning quarterback.
So the questions to be asked are: How can the value-added model better measure students’ performance? Why should it be an alternative for measuring Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP)? What are the disadvantages of the value-added model?
According to research, the value-added model uses multiple measures to evaluate students’ performance over a period of time. Rather than use a single assessment to measure students’ performance such as a standardized test, the value-added model uses other performance assessments, in addition to standardized test, to measure their achievement. In fact, the value-added model incorporates academic gains of all students according to their baseline or prior achievement levels. It takes into consideration their socio-economic status, race, gender and emotional or behavioral disabilities.
With the current No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requirements that all public schools meet AYP proficiency of 100 percent in mathematics and reading for all students and subgroups by 2014, research purports that the value-added model should be a viable alternative for measuring AYP. The reason is that students’ performance can be assessed individually from year to year rather than the annual measurable objectives for all students and subgroups. For example, if third grade elementary students’ performance on the mathematics and reading portions of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) or Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) are above grade level, the fourth grade teacher can assess the growth of these students individually on the same test from year to year. The teacher can also assess the necessary resources to further improve the achievement levels of students regardless of their social, economic and educational background.
Also, the value-added alternative to AYP can provide schools the opportunity to measure the effectiveness of teachers who taught students from year to year. For example, fourth grade teachers who taught the same group of third graders can be measured on how much they contributed to students’ performance on the FCAT or CRCT from year to year rather than the annual measurable objectives for all students and subgroups.
Critics argue that the value-added model has “limitations given that classrooms are not tightly controlled laboratories, students are not randomly assigned to teachers or schools and standardized tests are not perfectly reliable predictors of student knowledge.” Also, the absence of standardized test scores of students, in certain grade levels from a subsequent year, makes it impossible to measure value-added in students’ growth.
According to U.S. Department of Education, 11 state education agencies have filed requests, seeking flexibility from the NCLB. Their applications should reflect locally-designed interventions for their schools such as multiple measures to assess the effectiveness of the schools rather than adopt a one-size-fits-all remedy of the current NCLB.
Minnesota, for example, is making its waiver request to ensure that schools meet accountability standards for students through growth metrics coupled with assessment data of overall school performance. At the recent superintendent of DeKalb County School System faith-based roundtable meeting, Dr. Cheryl Atkinson says that DeKalb is considering a value-added model to assess the effectiveness of its schools and students. Atkinson believes that this growth model will also help to eliminate the misinformation or misunderstanding of AYP data to the public of DeKalb community.
Tebow’s throwing motion as a NFL quarterback is very unorthodox compared to traditional NFL quarterbacks. However, he has proved to his critics that other measures should be used to assess the effectiveness of a NFL quarterback. Similarly, we must consider other measures to assess the effectiveness of students’ performance in America’s schools. The value-added model being tested in various school systems provides an alternative process to measure students’ achievement in lieu of NCLB requirements.